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Plants & fungi

Orchid community agree name changes in Oncidium

Oncidium fuscatum
Wed, 2013-04-03 14:28

The monumental Genera Orchidacearum series depends on extensive analyses of DNA sequence data to provide guidance about how to classify orchids in an appropriate manner. A recent paper in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society is a good example of the scale and impact of such studies.

Framework for palm biogeography

Bismarkia nobilis
Tue, 2013-03-26 17:11

A series of papers in scientific journals has established a general framework for the biogeographical evolution of palms.

Eggplant names cracked

Solanum insanum
Tue, 2013-03-26 17:06

Taxonomists provide plant names to plant breeders and genebank curators. This service is critical for identifying wild relatives of cultivated plants and essential for breeding new food crops. Species naming is often confusing in crop wild relatives, and aubergines (eggplants) are worse than most.

Updating classifications to reflect monophyly

Pennisetum advena
Thu, 2013-03-07 00:00

Cenchrus advena (Wipff & Veldkamp) Morrone, one of the 1,179 grass species that have changed their name in the move towards a phylogenetic classification. The species was called Pennisetum advena Wipff & Veldkamp in traditional systems of grass classification.

Herbal medicine through an evolutionary lens

Pseudowintera colorata
Tue, 2013-03-05 14:34

There is often scepticism surrounding traditional herbal treatments, partly due to scarcity in large-scale evidence of efficacy of traditional medicine. A team of researchers from Kew, the University of Reading, Imperial College and RBG Edinburgh, in collaboration with colleagues from Nepal and New Zealand, have conducted a phylogenetic study that provides support for herbal remedies.

Chemical clues to rosy relationships

Rosa spinosissima
Thu, 2013-02-14 00:00

Researchers in the Sustainable Uses Group at Kew have discovered a particular type of flavonoid glycoside in leaves of the burnet rose (Rosa spinosissima; syn. R. pimpinellifolia) that had not been described previously in the scientific literature from any other plant. The novel compounds were found during a wider study looking at potentially new uses of plants. In particular, hips of the burnet rose, which is native to the UK, are harvested and used in cosmetics.